When it is time to get a new website or refresh your existing site, your starting place is the quote. Ideally you would ask for 3 quotes and be able to compare apples for apples… hosting, domain name and development costs all itemised.
Before enquiring however, it pays to sit down and think through how your website needs to change or what content you need on a new site.
Giving the addresses of sites you like is a great way to communicate the kind of look and functions you require and can be a big time saver.
Here are some important questions my might consider asking a prospective supplier during the quotation process:
- Will I be able to edit my own website? In other words, will there be a content management system (CMS) for my site. If there isn’t then that commits you to returning to your web design for future edits which they will invoice for. I would also be good to know if training or orientation is provided in the CMS. If not, there may be a very step learning curve.
My company uses the open source WordPress CMS to make new websites. We offer training by screen share in Skype and have http://www.how-to-wordpress.info as an additional resource.
- What are the backup arrangements for my website? Most hosts say the have a nightly back up in place, but if you press them for this, they will not be able to produce it. This is especially important for database driven website (most web sites now) as they are not stored and edited locally, but are always live on the server. Its best to get a back up facility built into your website at the time it is made. My company makes two back ups a week and sends them to Dropbox so they can be shard quickly with the owner of the site.
- Who has copyright over my website? This is an important question and one that is seldom addressed during the pre-purchase phase. And its a vexed question as there are three parties involve: you, the web designer and normally a software provider like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. You can try to claim copyright over the website in its entirety, but this probably wouldn’t stand up. For example, the engine of your site will be an open-source CMS – well, you can use that software for free, but you don’t own it (you can however download an instance of it at any time should you need the files). Its safest maybe to make it clear that your claim copyright over anything you write and and pictures you supply, but leave it there.
- Does the price include marketing on Google? This service is called “search engine optimisation” or SEO and is a specialist’s area. Most web design form will outsource this to a partner. so, mostly the answer to this will be “no”, this is because it costs more than a website to set up and it is a distinct and ongoing service, so probably billed separately.
- Will I be able to move my site to another supplier easily? This is very important, and many services like Wix and Fairfax Media’s offerings can not be moved – they need to be migrating a page at time – cut and paste. This is costly and unnecessary. Conversely, a website in a CMS like WordPress can be moved easily. All the page content can be exported as an XML file, or a SQL database can be imported into a new instance of WordPress, or a CPanel to Cpanel back up can be made. So there are many option PROVIDED you start with a the right software. It would also pay to get clear about termination arrangements – how and how much notice do you need to give if you want to move.
- Ask the web designer “What do you require from me to make a website?” You need to be clear that building a web site is a collaboration between you and your chosen web design company. If you are organised and clear, the project will go smoothly. If you drip feed content it will drag the time frame out and inputs and directions from you will be mislaid. Typically you will be required to write the text for your site, provide a logo and photography. If you don’t have these on hand and want the web designers to produce these items, then you need to specify that from the outset.
- How long will it take to make my website? Get the web design firm to say when they can start on your project. You don’t want to find out that they can’t deliver within the next month three months after you paid your deposit! But remember, if you drip feed inputs, you will slow the whole process down, so you have to hold up your end.
I hope this article was a useful primer to someone about to start the process of requesting a quote for a web site.